Colonial Impact on Pastoral Nomads and Caravan Traders in India

Colonial Impact on Pastoral Nomads and Caravan Traders in India: The Raika and the Banjara Cultural and Post-colonial studies enclose various historical approaches. It ranges from cultural studies and comparative social history to analysis of the means of domination and resistance. Nevertheless, there are communities that didn’t get the space they deserve in the studies of settled communities. Assistant Professor Dr Bikku R from the Department of Liberal Arts published a paper titled Colonial Impact on Pastoral Nomads and Caravan Traders in India: The Raika and the Banjara to analyse the aftereffects of colonialism in the most unexplored communities. The article was published in the book Tribe, Space, and Mobilisation.


The Raika of Rajasthan and the Banjara or Lambadi tribe of the Deccan region had been self-sustained as nomadic pastoralists and caravan traders, respectively, in pre-British India. Colonial policies imposed several restrictions on nomadic communities and their economic activities by branding them as ‘criminals’ under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871. As a result, many of the nomadic communities lost their cultural economy and struggled to survive. Colonial and post-colonial studies have primarily focused on settled communities. However, little attention is paid to pastoral nomads and itinerary communities. The present paper focuses on the transformation of traditional nomadic livelihoods, culture, and economy of the two communities; the Raika pastoralist and the Banjara traditional caravan traders and livestock breeders’ as a consequence of colonial policies. It also emphasises current livelihood strategies. Empirical data resulting from ethnographic fieldwork and colonial and post-colonial literature have been examined. An ethnographic study among the Banjaras from the Deccan region during the year 2009- 2010 and the Raika of Rajasthan between 2013- 2015 and 2019 helped to understand their past and present situations. Colonial and post-colonial policies, governance, and their impact on pastoralists and other nomadic communities have been critically examined.

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